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Lean UX Research in Startups


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An overview of how UX Research is conducted in entrepreneurial Lean UX organizations. Principles and practices of Lean/Agile UX teams in high-tech, mostly Silicon Valley, settings.
Presented by Susan Wilhite to startupUCLA, an accelerator for UCLA students, on June 7, 2012 on the campus. Watch the startupUCLA web site for a video of the live presentation.

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Lean UX Research in Startups

  1. 1. UX RESEARCH/DESIGN IN STARTUPS Building a foundation with Lean UX Susan Wilhite @Maggid @startupUCLA
  2. 2. “You can be so bad at so many things… as long as you stay focused onhow you’re providing value to your users and customers, youget through all that stuff.”
  3. 3. “You can be so bad at so many things… as long as you stay focused onhow you’re providing value to your users and customers, youget through all that stuff.” MARK ZUCKERBERG
  4. 4. TODAY’S KEY TAKEAWAYS Focus on value.Compile your knowledge. Build a spine.What do you know? What is your core?How do you know it? What is unnecessary?What does it mean? What is your niche?
  5. 5. The customer side of a businessUX = USER EXPERIENCE
  6. 6. LEAN UX DISCOUNT “The downside of this whole lean startup thing is that a lot of people seem to think it’s ok to launch crap. It’s not.” @MAXNIEDERHOFER Team Europe (Berlin) “The point of lean is to try to iteratively drive to a series of conclusions sooner with less cash consumed.” Bart Bartlett @bbartle Lean UX is about making the most of a short runway.
  7. 7. LEAN UX USES SCIENTIFIC METHODAt the core of Lean UX, you treat each design iteration as a hypothesis.“Minimize the amount of time youre pursuing the wrong hypothesis. Themore wrong paths you can figure out quickly, the sooner youll find theright path.“ Jeff Gothelf @jboogieTo compensate for the absence of heavyweight deliverables, Lean UX works viateam collaboration. Lean UX methods involve the entire team as they arehappening. Jared Spool, November 2011 blog post
  8. 8. UXProduct & BizDevelopment The Old Waterfall Process
  9. 9. UXProduct & BizDevelopment The Old Waterfall Process Deliverables are sometimes more enthusiastically given than received.
  10. 10. LEAN UX VERSUS REGULAR UXLean UX Regular UXInstead of doing quick bursts of …running months-longuser research… engagements.Rather than doing café testing on …lab testing a dozen+.3-6 people…Rather than sketching interfaces …generating reams of formalout on paper and prototyping documentation.them in HTML/CSS… Adapted from Andy Budd 2011
  11. 11. IS LEAN UX BETTER THAN REGULAR UX?Lean UX isn’t a different flavor of UX, just a subset.Research, design, and testing is one extended, morphing multi-phase study.“Some projects are fine with a guerrilla approach while others require moreformality.” @AndyBudd 2011 Research Research Prototype Test & Test Prototype
  12. 12. “Fully understand the most important attributes of your product.” • What is it conceptually? • How do users see the product • Important in what way? To whom? • Latent attributes • How does the product/service fit into the user’s ecosystem? • What does it displace or augment or compliment? • What are the end-to-end experiences?
  13. 13. UX Research/Design role in the organization – what it’s like to carry the chargeTHE UX LEAD
  14. 14. HOW UX WORKS IN THEORYHabitually and harmoniously internalizeand actualize the implications ofcustomer needs/wishes, technicaland team processes, productdevelopment and marketing history,and the nature of externalrelationships.“Strong opinions, weakly held.”Paul Saffo (Faculty, Singularity University)
  15. 15. HOW UX WORKS IN PRACTICE Stand up for your findings and perspectives. Have constructive and objective arguments. “Leave your ego at the door” “Play well with others”
  16. 16. “One world fair, a picnic, and a rodeo.”
  18. 18. The UX Value-add Sell yourself, sell your methods, sell your thinking• Propose theories backed up by well-chosen and well-illustrated empirical data• Accept, expand on and facilitate collective + diverse thinking• Keep D-school exercises handy (
  19. 19. RIDE THE CHAOS Develop & practice team learning and processing.Work from a strong, central spine. Know what/who you can depend on. Prepare to improvise.
  21. 21. IS IT OK FOR A RESEARCHER TO NOT BE A MAKER?In an ideal world the person who brings in new ideas also designs the product orservice. Yet each role has its principles, knowledge, and skills.Researchers generate data that become findings that inform everyone.Designers think through research findings to generate design solutions. This question is a work in progress.
  23. 23. A rigorous learning structure supports breakthrough innovation.COMPILE YOUR KNOWLEDGE
  24. 24. Build-Measure-Learn Lean UX dogma
  25. 25. Build-Measure-Learn Lean UX dogmaThink-Make-Check (LUXr)
  26. 26. Build-Measure-Learn Lean UX dogmaThink-Make-Check (LUXr)Learn-Measure-Build Lean Startup Circle
  27. 27. Learn. Measure. Build. Compile… Research Requirements Analysis planning Design Evaluation Prototype Testing Adapted from Read-Write-Web: “Bye-Bye Waterfall”
  28. 28. COMPILE YOUR KNOWLEDGE• Identify and investigate your most critical questions• Connect your UX findings to what you already “know”• Balance enthusiasm with skepticism• Plan to reuse data • UX Research/Design has a long shelf-life• Build institutional knowledge • Keep processing prior data and findings across roles • Develop meta-conclusions and new hypotheses
  29. 29. JOB QUALIFICATIONS EXAMPLEMinimum QualificationsBachelors Degree in Psychology, Anthropology, Human Factors, Cognitive Science, or relatedfield and 3 years experience in consumer-based research design and analysis, user analytics,or related field OR 5 years’ experience in consumer-based research design and analysis, useranalytics, or related field.Preferred QualificationsMasters Degree in Human Computer Interaction, Applied Statistics, Econometrics,Psychometrics, or related field.• 2 years’ experience researching front-end user experience solutions for mobile applications on major smartphone platforms such as Android or iOS.• 2 years’ experience conducting quantitative on-line research methodologies with systems such as UserZoom or Keynote.• 2 years’ experience conducting field-based ethnographic research.
  30. 30. WRAP UP: UX RESEARCH/DESIGN IN STARTUPS• Focus on value to the customer• Apply Lean UX: compile your knowledge• Build a spine: a reliable infrastructure as a foundation for innovation
  31. 31. @Maggid Susan_Wilhite at msn dot comSUSAN WILHITE, UX RESEARCHER